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Entitlement mentality fostering discontent with the city

There was a meeting Wednesday at Friendship House where residents could talk with City and School District officials about their concerns. I was dumbfounded by this one:

Another [attendee] said she was worried for two of her younger children because of a lack of youth activities.

“After 5:30 (p.m.), there’s just nothing for them to do . . . when are you going to give them something to do to keep them off the streets, out of the gangs . . . and be part of the community,” the woman said.

First of all, I can’t believe someone actually said that. There are a lot of ellipses — perhaps she was misquoted or taken out of context. But if that’s an accurate representation of the question, God have mercy on our nation. Think about the philosophy described here: she believes the reason her kids are on the streets and joining gangs is because the government hasn’t provided sufficient youth activities. And “when are you going to give them something” exhibits a textbook definition of “entitlement mentality.” I wonder what she thinks her responsibility is, if anything, as the parent of her children.

That said, there are, in fact, plenty of free entertainment options. We just expanded the libraries in Peoria, so there is more opportunity to borrow and read good books. The libraries even have organized summer reading programs that include prizes. District 150 has just built two new schools with huge outdoor playground areas where kids can play basketball or baseball. The park system has baseball diamonds, tennis courts, frisbee golf courses, and other amenities. Lots of churches have youth activities. The Christian Center has bowling, pool, ping-pong, and other games at low prices. There is no shortage of opportunities for young people to entertain themselves in this city.

I wish someone would have pointed out to her that it’s not the City’s or the School District’s job to entertain her children. The City and School District don’t have the resources or responsibility to raise the children of Peoria — that’s the parents’ responsibility. We can and do provide a number of resources, but parents and children need to take some initiative to avail themselves of those resources.

Here’s the answer she got:

Riggenbach said with dwindling money that it could be difficult to fund such activities.

“I think it’s time the churches stand up and join all the forces, the park district and schools and hit this head-on,” Riggenbach said. “I don’t have an easy answer tonight but I do hear you.”

In essence, Riggenbach reinforced her entitlement mentality. He didn’t dispute it. He just said there wasn’t enough money or church involvement to provide those entitlements. Ironically, he’s a Republican.

42 comments to Entitlement mentality fostering discontent with the city

  • justan observer

    Riggenebach is a joke. Put into power to be a yes man. Nuff said.

  • Mahkno

    The irony is that churches are increasingly picking up the slack, providing better organized activities than the park district. In particular, the Christian Center comes to mind.

    I have met plenty of people who don’t even bother with the Park District anymore; “poorly ran, poorly attended, don’t like the kids they do end up with, poor coaches, poor refs, poor facilities in convenient locales….” the list goes on. A lot of it is BS but nonetheless.

  • District 150 Observer

    well done, CJ. Unfortunately, this country has fostered a legion of people who feel entitled. The government should do everything for us, including raising our children–including keeping our children occupied.

    Screw parenting–it is not my fault–it is the government’s fault!

  • SD

    I don’t know about the rest of the world but by 5:30 p.m. it was time for my kids to come in and have supper and be with the family. After dinner we did homework together at the dinning room table. The older ones helped the younger ones and they in turn helped the older ones to review. Instead of doing homework right after school that was playtime while it was still daylight. From 5:30 on it was inside family time. Evidently it worked because I never had problems with mine finding things to do. We had 4H and FFA and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and various other things. A lot of the kids played basketball on the school grounds after school. There was always something to do. Saturday afternoon skating rink activies. And the list goes on and on. But we were parents parenting as we were supposed too. And I was not a stay at home mother. I worked and sometimes I worked two and three jobs at a time but I always managed to know what my kids were doing and where they were. But we had house rules and they were obeyed or there were consequences. We didn’t depend on others to raise our children.

  • EmergePeoria

    I tend to think Riggenbach would agree with you. Here is what I got from what he said – if you want your kids entertained, you are going to have to be responsible for that yourself, because we don’t have funding for it.

  • As a child in Dallas, Texas in the 1950s, I walked to my neighborhood primary school, a couple of blocks away from home. In the summer the park district ran programs for kids on the school grounds, which included a free swimming pool, filled daily, no chlorine, open only a couple of hrs for various ages of kids, and craft activities the rest of the day and sports, sandlot softball, etc.
    No highly organized anything. No reservations required. No advance sign ups or fees. No transportation problems. It was wonderful, and likely cheap to operate. They hired teachers to run these programs.
    Could this be replicated in today’s world? Don’t hold your breath.

  • Sterling

    One of the commenters on the PJStar said that what wasn’t mentioned at the meeting was the fact that the mother in question works evenings, and that the two younger ones are 13 and 10 — not necessarily old enough to travel very far on their own.

    Hopefully that helps contextualize it a bit.

  • Sterling — That does help contextualize it. Thanks. Nevertheless, there are still lots of good options available for children of that age to entertain themselves. And it’s still the parent’s responsibility — not the government’s — to provide adequate oversight of their children while they’re at work.

  • Sharon Crews

    I, also, believe that the public schools simply do not have the money to operate after school and summer time activities for young people. Whether aor not the public schools should take on this responsibility is a moot point since the money just isn’t there. Since my youth, there has been one major change. Many neighborhoods just aren’t safe places for children to play. I believe most of my spare time was spent playing with kids in my neighborhood until dark when all our parents would call us home. That opportunity is unsafe for way too many kids.
    When I go to Proctor Center at 5:00 on Wednesday nights to help with GED classes, there are always several middle school kids out front–not misbehaving, just hanging out. There is also a security person always on duty. Of course, Proctor Center is part of the Peoria Park District, so I assume some activities are offered at night and in the summer.
    I do believe it’s time for churches to pick up the slack. I believe that I received a good percentage of my own education at church–learning to read, to memorize, etc.,–and rules for getting along with others. First United Methodist’s soccer program is an effort to provide young people on the near northside with an organized activity. In the summer many churches offer Bible schools that are open to all.
    I do believe that District 150 has dropped the ball with regard to summer school–many young people need that extra learning time to catch up with the students who are not behind and who, therefore, do not need summer school. The money sent to Edison and to Johns Hopkins could help support summmer school. I still believe the high school students should pay tuition for summer school–but if the district doesn’t like the idea, then get rid of Edison.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    That was me that posted in the PJS star comment section about this lady who spoke at the meeting….it was mentioned at the meeting, but not printed in the PJS article.

    Since we know now how easy it is for things to be ‘taken out of context’ (Sherrod for example), I will soon upload video of this lady’s comments to YouTube. Then you can view it, and then comment (BTW, there was also a Spanish interpreter for some Hispanic folks in audience, so all the speakers had to speak in 2-3 sentences and stop for interpreter)

  • You seem confused, C.J. You think the government is the same as the community?
    “the government hasn’t provided sufficient youth activities.”

    It is the community’s responsibility to have safe playground and activities for children. If the City or School District acts in that capacity because of their greater resources, what is the problem. You expect that parent to build a park or playground?
    What are we paying our City and School officials for? Subsidizing private hotels and private schools? (it certainly CAN’T be making our city safer or educating our children)

  • “We just expanded the libraries in Peoria”
    These kids and their parents can’t read and have never learned the importance of books.

    “Lots of churches have youth activities.”
    Great, indoctrinate the kids in hate and intolerance in return for allowing them to play.

    “I wish someone would have pointed out to her that it’s not the City’s or the School District’s job to entertain her children.”
    I don’t think she is as concerned about entertainment as she is safety.

    Please be aware, this talk of “entitlement mentality” sounds an awful lot like Glenn Beck talking about “them Muslims”.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    It’s nice to ask churches to take up the slack, but not all churches in the neighborhoods are flush with cash…some may be hurting too, as far as membership/tithes. They may not have members that can volunteer to run these early evening programs either. Some are in the same boat as agency programs funded by government or private funds…they’re drying up.

  • Sharon Crews

    Sorry, Charlie–it’s up to parents to decide if they want their children in church; it’s their option. It’s an option open to parents who want their children to get religious education–I didn’t say anything about forcing them to go. Charlie, I did forget to mention public parks–you are right; we do pay taxes to provide parks and playgrounds. However, most of the time (especially with younger children) it is still up to the parents to go with their children to insure their safety, etc.
    I have to add though at this particular moment I understand your fear of indoctrination–especially to any who follow the likes of Glenn Beck. He just outright scares me. While I do understand C. J.’s reference to “entitlement mentality,” I don’t want to take all responsibility away from those with the means to help those who do not have the means–that’s one of the missions of the church. Personally, I believe the problem began when churches turned over their responsibilities to help the poor to the government.

  • Well, when I was a kid, mom said go out and play and come home when it gets dark. On school nights, it was stay out and play until dinner. We rode our bikes all over, went to summer time “Recreation” at the school grounds and just hung out.

    Nowadays, your kid can be kidnapped, beaten, robbed, or force to join a gang. If you are a parent that cares, you don’t dare take your eyes off your child while playing even in an enclosed playground. Says a lot about where our society has gone in a few generations. Wonder what happened?

  • Sharon Crews

    Drugs, happened–and gangs to sell them and other folks living all over town to buy them.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    Here is the link to the video clip I mentioned earlier:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLZeZgkivkI

    It’s about 10 minutes long, and includes a response by
    City Councilman Tim Riggenbach.

    [Editor's note: I'm embedding the video for my readers' convenience.]

  • Charlie says, “It is the community’s responsibility to have safe playground and activities for children.”

    You’ll need to defend/elaborate on this assertion. How did you reach this conclusion?

    Charlie says, “These kids and their parents can’t read and have never learned the importance of books.”

    I suppose that’s the community’s fault somehow, eh?

    In response to “Lots of churches have youth activities,” Charlie shows his hate for and intolerance of churches by saying, “Great, indoctrinate the kids in hate and intolerance in return for allowing them to play.” I love irony!

    Charlie says, “I don’t think she is as concerned about entertainment as she is safety.” Safety is the outcome she seeks, but entertainment (“youth activities”) is the means she thinks will achieve it, based on the characterization in the paper. I see Dennis has put up a clip, so I’ll go watch it now to get more context.

  • Okay. Having watched the clip, I have a few things to say.

    First, she has a legitimate beef with the City as it gives millions of dollars to millionaires to build hotels downtown and gives away a $10 million piece of land to a private museum that continues to bleed taxpayers for their pet project, yet pleads poverty when it comes to police protection, street/sidewalk maintenance, code enforcement, etc.

    Second, she has a legitimate beef with the School District for closing neighborhood schools and cutting education time out of the school day. That hurts the community and takes away access to school facilities after hours (i.e., the new schools and their amenities are not within safe walking or biking distance for younger children).

    Given that, I can see where she’s coming from. It’s really more like she’s looking for something to replace what they’ve taken away from the community.

    Thanks for the clip, Dennis. That was very helpful.

  • What was the makeup of the audience that it was necessary to have an interpreter there? This is Peoria, IL USA isn’t it?

  • Sharon Crews

    I just listened to the video. I’m not sure exactly what this mother expects. She did state that Friendship House has provided her children with some activities. The part I didn’t understand was that she wants something for a 10 and 13-year old to do after 5:30. In the winter, after 5:30 kids should probably be in the house doing homework. She didn’t make clear who takes care of her children when she is working. She has described the problems facing all single moms and/or dads–no one at home.
    When I was growing up, I don’t think that young people expected to have so much to do–my own activities revolved around school, church, and Youth for Christ. I was more into church activities than into school activities–but they were there for kids who wanted to be involved. Unfortunately, extra-curricular activities often seem to draw a certain group of kids–more the “in crowd,” whatever that means. Most teenagers just aren’t involved in school activities.
    The one problem of hers for which I do have sympathy is that her neighborhood just isn’t a safe place for her children–and that isn’t her fault. She does seem to have the attitude that the city and taxpayer money should be providing her children with something to do. Apart from school sponsored activities, I don’t think that I can agree that her problem is one that taxpayers should be expected to solve.
    One thing I noticed–she did hear the message of the District Watch group when we were fighting against the shortened day. :) Her speech seemed to indicate that she believes the day was shortened.
    She didn’t mention it–but one big problem will be that she has lost a “neighborhood” high school, so her children will probably have difficulty participating in evening extra curricular activities or even getting home from after-school activities. I would join her in blaming the city and the Chamber of Commerce for pushing the loss of Woodruff–and the BOE for listening to them.

  • Crazy!

    She is justifiably clearly annoyed and distracted by the translator.

  • Karrie E. Alms

    There were many Hispanic families in the audience.

  • EmergePeoria

    That area has many hard working Hispanic families. Just ask the Catholic Social Services (La Casa) in that area how many hard working Hispanic families they have living around lower Glen Oak and Morgan Square Park.

    I am grateful to this woman for speaking on behalf of her community. Although the Friendship House is making a huge impact in this area, they can’t do it all by their selves. That area needs more teen intervention type of activities.

  • Sharon Crews

    My church, First United Methodist Church, has recently hired a Spanish speaking minister (and his wife) to help communicate with the people in this community–the church’s neighborhood. C.J., you did add new perspective to the discussion–Emerge said some of the same things on her blog. I do believe that the city may have its priorities mixed up. You are right; public money is better spent on public services, not in assisting private developers make money.

  • curious

    Is there a school board policy against having convicted felons “volunteering” at primary schools for registration? A relative of a d150 employee who is a recent parolee from prison for drugs and theft was seen volunteering today. Is this the FACE we want to put on d150? Great role model….huh

  • curious reply

    to formally volunteer, yes. what school?

  • Mahkno

    “Great role model….huh”

    Is he role modeling to the kids that they do drugs and steal or is he role modeling don’t do as I have done?

    At some point you have to acknowledge that the debt to society has been paid.

  • Curious

    He was released within the last month. He has not even assimilated back into society after years in prison…Not the best way to start….at least, not with CHILDREN. Let him go work at a mission or a factory. I don’t think he should be “volunteering” around children PERIOD.

  • Curious

    Curious Reply: The principal was aware of the man’s history. BTW, I have no doubt that he has a rap sheet as long as my arm. I also have no doubt that most of the children registering know him or know of him…..what message are we sending our children? Can D150 not find ANYONE else?

  • So what?

    Curious if he has paid his debt to society, and he’s not a registered offender what is wrong with him trying to help children to not make the same mistakes he did? Would you prefer he go curl up in a corner and die somewhere? Ever heard of rehabilitation? Chill out.

  • “I love irony!”
    I bet you do.
    What is the hysteria about the Muslim centers in Tennessee, Wisconsin, California and lower Manhattan? Indoctrination? HOW IRONIC!

    “I suppose that’s the community’s fault somehow, eh?”
    Why do you think they can’t read? Stupid? Or not taught properly? Eh?

    “You’ll need to defend/elaborate on this assertion. How did you reach this conclusion?”
    We are a social creature… we learn nothing except through our interactions with other people. The only thing that separates us from the animals is who you are raised around.

    “This is Peoria, IL USA isn’t it?”
    We talk ‘Mericun, here. Now go warsh yer hands.

    My great grandparents spoke German… they were no less American than you.

  • Sharon: “that’s one of the missions of the church.”

    Which church? YOUR church or THEIR church? (I’m a Methodist, too)Churches MUST work outside the government (us, the people). That’s what America is about. The state, city and federal governments can not rely on churches to do the jobs that they are tasked with.

    How sad that this woman works two jobs and still feels like it is the casino that is gonna provide her with the money available to give her kids what they need… it’s pathetic. Understandable, but pathetic.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    You and the rest of the Peoria Chronicle fans are welcome.
    That’s why I do video like that…they say a picture is worth a 1000 words…so I say video/audio must be worth 100x that.

    Karrie lives in that area of town, I believe, and would know
    more about the mix of audience…but my guess is it was a good mix of a few Caucasian, Hispanic, some African-Americans. Young and old. Jehan Gordon stopped by for awhile. Jim Montelongo came in, was invited up front.

    I plan on airing portions of this forum on CAPtions, maybe on Sunday, Sept. 7th at 5 pm Comcast 22. I already have a show for August 29th, the JJ Anderson Court Dedication and his Basketball Camp Luncheon. (Sorry for the shameless plug, CJ, lol)

  • Sharon Crews

    Charlie, my mistake–I should not have said “the” church. I did mean the Christian church (any denomination). I am sure that other religions, also, advocate helping the poor–just speaking of the one to which I belong.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    Geez, getting ahead of myself…the JJ Anderson Court Dedication and his Basketball Camp Luncheon is on CAPtions this Sunday, the 22nd at 5 pm. This Friendship House forum will be on Sept. 5, not Sept. 7th

  • Curious

    So What: Over 150,000 people in Peoria and the only people that are willing to volunteer for school registration day is a parolee out of prison less than a month? Where were all the “concerned” parents on registration day? Yes, I agree, he paid his debt to society, but I do not believe that his first “volunteer” position should be around children. If he is remorseful and is a “changed” man, let him work at the Peoria Mission or a food pantry.

  • So what?

    Curious – Who died and made you boss of who can volunteer and where?

  • 113,000 The population of Peoria has never been 150,000 (to the best of my recollection)

  • “I should not have said “the” church.”

    I agree. That seems to imply there is only one church. (On an ecumenical pluralistic note, that may be true… “If it were proven there were a God there would be no religion. On the other hand if it were proven there were no God, there would be no religion.”)

  • Well …

    In reality, the good old days saw plenty of organized activities for children. They just weren’t all sponsiored by the government. Believe it or not, before people got addicted to television, the Internet and video games, they actually left their homes and socialized. They were members of social organizations. They were members of softball leagues, bowling leagues, etc. Political parties sponsored spcial artivities. Churches held events that were well attended. There were active German-American, Irish-American, Italian-American and Lebanese American societies. Also, families were geographically closer. Grandparents might actually live in the home.

    WSe’ve replaced our social structure with pop culture and electronic babysitters and we are not the better for it.

    So I see where this lady was coming from. “They” aren’t doing enough to give kids things to do. It’s just that the definition of “they” have changed. “They” used to be “us.” Now it’s the government.

  • merle widmer

    Suggest you read my blog “Community Gardens”. Only a few of you mentioned WORK such as gardening, household duties or reading and perhaps the kids teaching their Hispanic parents the English language.

    Friendship House accomodates all, legal and illegal. We are a compassionate community. Hm.

    My Mom and Dad speak German. All nine kids were told to speak English at all times. My Dad did not want to ever return to Switzerland, his birthplace.

    Bill, In the background of your video, I could hear what sounded like kids talking while the woman espoused her “nothing to do” problems and Rigeenbach stumbled over his “not enough money for programs” non solutions.

    This lack of respect for elders is so commonplace and so many of our teachers are not competent to handle all this discourtesy, what do we expect our adult ommunities are becoming?